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Showing posts from 2019

50 is the New Black

So where ever you are, whenever you see this, glass in hand or no, please join me in saying, "Thank you Lillie Mae for this moment your effort has brought into being." Despite thinking last year I might want to approach birthdays differently, and this being one of those milestone years, I found myself responding to my roommate asking, "what do you want to do for your birthday?" with "oh shit, that's soon." A high school friend has been doing a "50 days to 50" thread on Facebook, essentially 50 days of gratitude.  My initial wish that I had thought of something similar was met with, "seriously dude? Do you even know who you are?" Aside from actually feeling like a huge number the most significant thing about turning 50 is that I will remember my age this year consistently without doing any math. Periodically I think it's fair to ask myself if I'm in denial, in some way, about aging, about where I am in my life, its compositi…

Is Cynicism More Disqualifying Than Ignorance?

I was somewhat reluctant at the time to ascribe any specific intent to Elizabeth Warren's DNA stunt, just focusing on what it said about her political instincts. In retrospect, because of subsequent choices, I see it as craven cynicism. I get that, "I have a plan for that!" is supposed to be her new brand, but obviously, a working plan isn't a central part of that. Her brand should actually be "Pandering Cynic". I now find myself wondering if even she thinks the policy she offers will do what she says it's intended to do. I've been saying in my head that I feel irrational anger towards her, but it's actually quite rational and specific.


My posting schedule has been off because I've been playing with the idea of submitting pieces for publication. I've been thinking a lot about how we talk about disparities and how the conversation is used as a cudgel against universal policy. The closest to a good faith version of this argument is usually…

Sometimes It's Just the Sum of the Parts

In recognizing that none of the things in my head right now are compelling enough to justify thinking through an entire post to pretend there's depth behind the bored sketched out thoughts that amount to a couple of tweet threads I'm putting it all together in one post:
Schrödinger's Candidate Matt Yglesias wrote a piece at Vox suggesting the left should worry Joe Biden's chance at winning the nomination. Almost simultaneously someone who'd have bet against Biden entering the race a month ago expressed some dismay over his sustained poll numbers. I think that what they both get wrong, and which will grow increasingly clear, is that Biden's numbers aren't real. While I'm sure he has some core supporters he's still being evaluated as a potential candidate, not on the basis of what he will do as a candidate. What we know so far is that he's poised in contrast to Bernie to be dismissive of the economic system his policies leave behind for millennial…

Have They Ever Asked What People Like About Their Insurance?

I don't talk much about the fact that I used to live in Barcelona. It's not often relevant unless I'm playing Two Truths and a Lie. Full disclosure: I kinda forget about it. It feels like a lifetime ago. It is in the sense that I've been back in the US for almost as long as I lived there and my life here is less part of that continuum than a completely different story featuring the same central character. Still, random memories of events will spring into my head, and I think, "oh shit, that happened to me."

This week I found myself thinking about my emergency room visit while there. I cut a deep gash in my hand and started applying pressure and thinking about my self-treatment plan. My partner insisted that we go to the emergency room. I'm only just now recognizing how irrational my resistance to seeking professional treatment must have seemed to her. Our healthcare system is monstrously unique in its level of apathy, the concept of not seeking basic trea…

What Won't They do to Stop Bernie?

In November I began writing what I considered at the time the argument for white leftists to support Bernie's universalist  plans that represent a continuation of MLK's mission while easily deflecting accusations of being racist for not buying into the idiotic culture war framing that's useless and usually ascendant. I started by attempting to clearly describe the difference between systemic racism and personal bias based on the history of the creation of race. I followed that by explaining my own journey to a framework for racism that made it a problem for poor people regardless of race that might be fought through coalition. From those two pieces it was easy to explain that Bernie represented the only actual anti-racist platform, since any actual anti-racism would center a massive downward re-distribution of wealth. The effort initially seemed in vain, since many of my white mutual followers 'cancelled' me. By that I mean that a number of them after arguing that …

Why Are We Expending So Much Energy on Something Barely Half of Black People Want?

Presidential contenders are being asked about their support for reparations. One could be forgiven for assuming that reparations has broad support within the Black community, it seems like an easy bet. But only slightly more than half of Black people support the idea. So why has the idea suddenly gained so much traction? Neither Yvette Carnell nor Antonio Moore, originators of #ADOS (American descendants of slaves) have the following to drive a topic supported by less than a quarter of Americans into the national conversation. I suspect that it has everything to do with Bernie Sanders, the obvious frontrunner since announcing, and the ongoing attempt to portray him as racially blind and unaware. When asked directly about his support of reparations in 2016, Sanders answered, "Its likelihood of getting through congress is nil. Second of all I think it would be very divisive." He then went on to explain how his policies would have a disproportionate positive effect on the Blac…

Kamala, #ADOS, and the Black Agenda

The idea of reparations being paid out to the descendants of the enslaved is prominent in the political discourse again. In this moment it's specifically being talked about in relation to Kamala Harris' presidential ambitions and the sense that she lacks a Black agenda. Harris' record as a tough on crime District Attorney for San Fransisco and Attorney General for California stands in contrast to her current positions and rhetoric on criminal justice. A number of her critics point to the image she portrayed in defeating a progressive in her run for DA and the videos in which she brags about her approach to truancy and laughs at the naivety of activists promoting school construction over prison investment. Many of her critics, self-identifying as American Descendants of Slaves and with the hashtag #ADOS suggest that Harris, who identified herself as American when asked if she saw herself as Black, feels no deep connection to the experience of ADOS or strong affinity for the…

Even Shitty People Can Support Good Things

If in observing this reality, noting that $31,600, before taxes, for 52 weeks of labor represents a raise for a significant number of Black and Latino workers you're inclined to insist we also need to confront racism, you are not the left. While personal bias can sometimes have deadly results, the numbers pale beside the exponentially larger number of deaths that are the result of the deprivations of capitalism. And I have yet to hear any effective method I might use for addressing bias within others that warrants adding it as a goal to the already monumental task of getting even subsistence level needs consistently met. Whether you consider yourself left or not it should be clear that the only potential candidate interested in transforming our political system towards one that considers the needs of the most vulnerable is Bernie Sanders. I want to say something that will be treated as controversial or apologist in certain circles but shouldn't be by anyone with any sense of …

Can We Be Honest About What This Moment Demands?

The constant focus on Trump by the media, as well as the daily barrage of information ranging from the trivial to the potentially Earth changing on top of the frogs slowly coming to a boil nature of our lives seem to make it difficult for important information to make a lasting impression on our collective psyche. The media plays Trump like he's some exceptional thing that happened with no other context than racism instead of the culmination he is of a multitude of failures by our representative government to center the basic needs of its constituents and the citizens of the world more generally. I shield myself from this constant barrage, like everyone, but periodically try to take stock of the major problems facing us. My most recent incomplete accounting:
we have 12 years to curtail catastrophic climate changeup to 45, 000 people die due to lack of healthcare or medicine10% are uninsured,~28 million~41 million people are underinsured, more than a quarter of insured are underin…